The CPO Defined

What is a CPO? We all know that CPO stands for Chief Procurement Officer, but what is a Chief Procurement Officer? Considering that the only about half of organizations have a VP or CPO heading up Procurement and that only one in five of these allow the CPO to sit at the C-Suite table, it should be obvious that this position is still not that well defined.

Even less defined is who this individual is. Is the CPO an executive, leader, strategist, tactician, buyer extraordinaire, supply chain guru, visionary, or rouge? What skills should the CPO possess? What should the CPO be measured on, and, more importantly, how does this relate to what the CPO is actually measured on?

However, these problems are trivial when compared to the problems possessed by a new CPO (or VP) or a senior buyer or director aspiring to the CPO position. These individuals, desperately in training and guidance, have no where to turn. There is no one location where they can go to

  • find out what a CPO is
  • find out what the CPO job description means
  • find out what an organization that needs a CPO is really looking for
  • find out what qualities and skills a CPO needs
  • find out what issues the CPO should be concerned about
  • find out what strategies and tactics the CPO needs
  • find out what best practices need to be put in place
  • find out what technologies will be needed to support them
  • find out what transition management skills will be needed to effect the changes
  • … and so on …

This is because no one person, and to be honest, no one site has all of the necessary expertise in:

  • Sourcing & Procurement
  • Operations Management
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Best Practices & Technology
  • Internal Sales & Fire Lighting
  • Education & Training
  • … and so on …

You see, it takes a lot of knowledge and ability to be a great CPO, and a lot of this knowledge can only be parted by true experts. Given the fact that it typically takes an average person ten years to become an expert in just one skill, it’s not surprising that there is no one person with all of this knowledge and capability. Moreover, given the fact that most small expert consultancies are formed by people with like interests and skills, it’s also not surprising that you are only going to get expertise in a few of these categories.

However, when the right people with the altruistic goal of fulfilling a need come together, to fill a need that would otherwise not be fulfilled, they can combine their expertise to create a curriculum and a resource that fully defines what a CPO is, the skills and knowledge the CPO needs, the strategies and tactics to get the CPO through the day, the best practices and technologies to put in place, and the transition management skills that will be needed.

And that’s what has happened. Today, the Spend Matters network launches Chief Procurement Officer. This new initiative, overseen by the legendary Pierre Mitchell, is starting off as the first collaboration between Spend Matters and Sourcing Innovation designed to fully define what a CPO is, what a CPO needs, and what a CPO should expect upon starting a new job. Over the next few months you will see a number of multi-part series on:

  • What is a CPO?
  • Tearing Apart the CPO Job Description
  • The CPO’s Agenda
  • The CPO’s Journey
  • … etc. …

the doctor has already co-authored over thirty posts with Pierre on these topics, with dozens more in the works. When you combine Pierre’s expertise on Supply Management, Operations, and Organizational Planning with the doctor‘s expertise on Supply Management, Technology, and Education with Thomas Kase‘s expertise on Strategy, Tactics, Best Practices and Field Operations with Jason “The Prophet” Busch’s ability to show you how to internally sell and light the fire — the whole gambit of what you need is covered!